The Early Signs of Decline

by Jack

Chico, like many other cities, is suffering from a very costly invasion.  What began as a mere trickle has grown into a full on flood of… “homeless.”  Latest estimates for the homeless population are in excess of 1,100.

Homeless means anything from drug addicts to criminals on the run.  Oh sure, it also means people who have truly fallen on bad times despite trying to work and be a good member of society.   I’m pretty sure they are minority, just like the mentally ill who didn’t get that way do to drugs.  The rest are there for us to deal with and pay for.

I’m not sure if this is good or not, but our homeless are the richest poor people  in the world.  Seems like they can afford booze, drugs, tattoos, excellent bicycles, camping gear, cell phones, etc., thanks to your charity or their larceny.

Even worse than this invasion of the messy masses are the antiquated laws that protect them and do little or nothing to protect us and brother are we paying thru the nose for absurd laws.

Mostly this is chronic theft and property damage, but sometimes there are assaults, especially from knife attacks.  Attempted murder or murder by homeless are also on the rise.  The latter crimes have soared in recent years and this comes at a huge cost to the taxpayers too.  But, generally its just the daily thefts that keeps chiseling away at the health of our businesses and our community.

This is why I say the homeless problem has become acute, at least in the local retail sector.  As one Chico store manager put it, “Store losses, we call it [shrink], runs anywhere from $300 to $500 per day.”  (That would average about $146,000 a year from just one business.  Eventually, the shoplifting costs are passed on to the customer. )

On a one to ten scale, ten being the worst, I would say this problem is an 8.  We’re being hit hard every day because we are a convenient target.  We’re located close to Bidwell Park where the homeless congregate.” Anon. mgr.

He said the assistance from police has been and I quote, “little to none.” ( I have to interject that I’ve heard this complaint many times from the merchants who own or run shops in the downtown.  The most common line is, Police? Pffft…why bother? )

The store manager agrees and says, “In one case he called the police to report this homeless guy that just stole 6 bottles of liquor.  The police officer said they didn’t have anyone available, but if they see him, they would let us know.  He really said that, they would let us know.”  Of course they never did.

The manager said they have a loss prevention person, but most of the time, if they spot a thief they’re lucky to just recover the merchandise. They can’t forcibly detain or arrest anyone.  This is store policy in order to prevent a costly lawsuit.  This store and many like it, are caught between the threat of horrendously costly civil suits (filed by homeless advocates) and the criminal laws that now unintentionally favors the criminal instead of the victim.

The law says the homeless have a right to sleep on the sidewalk or beg for money.  There are no more vagrancy or loitering laws or failure to identify laws.

The sheer size of the new homeless problem speaks to an even greater problem looming in the future.  What we are witnessing may be the first signs of a major decline.   The homeless issue is but one part of our nation’s sinking future.

Well, no civilization lasts forever and democracy is known to have a short life-span, typically 200 years.  We are well past that expiration date and I believe we’re witnessing the symptoms of a long slow decline.

If you can stomach it, there’s more you need to know and this comes from a report done the by Washington Post in 2016:

Between 2011 and 2014, the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty found that bans on sleeping in cars shot up 119 percent, citywide camping prohibitions jumped 60 percent, anti-loitering laws increased 35 percent and anti-begging laws increased 25 percent in a survey of 187 cities.

Similar legal fights are playing out across the nation as the homeless challenge anti-panhandling ordinances, anti-camping laws and the seizure of their belongings in sweeps.

In Virginia, more than a dozen homeless alcoholics represented by the Legal Aid Justice Center sued the state’s prosecutors in March, claiming Virginia’s “habitual drunkard” law criminalizes addiction among those on the street and violates their constitutional rights.
A man down/drunk 9-1-1 call costs us about $3800 for police, ambulance and E-R treatment.  Just one chronic drunk can easily cause over 200 9-1-1 calls a year.  That costs you $760K in emergency healthcare dollars, and limited resources diverted to the habitual drunk.  Is this a Constitutional right?  Think about that while you sit waiting in the ER with a broken limb, while some homeless drunk arrives in an ambulance and gets priority service.  

The law allows prosecutors to ask the courts to designate someone a “habitual drunkard” if they have been shown to have a drinking problem. After the designation, the person can be jailed if they are caught with alcohol. Prosecutors say the law keeps drunks off the street. They have used the designation in more than 1,200 cases in recent years.

In Hono­lulu, a group of homeless people sued the city last fall, after what the mayor called a “war on homelessness” prompted by complaints from residents and tourists. The city passed a law banning sitting and lying on sidewalks, closed parks at night and dismantled one of the nation’s largest homeless encampments.

The lawsuit accused the city of illegally trashing medicine, identification papers and food storage during the sweep, leaving homeless children hungry. A settlement was recently reached that forbids the city from seizing certain items.

The homeless have also challenged broad anti-panhandling laws in Springfield, Ill., Oklahoma City and Sacramento County, Calif., on grounds it violates freedom of speech. Some locales have altered their laws in response.”

CHICO TRIED MANY THINGS TO DEAL WITH HOMELESS PROBLEM:  We’ve tried enlarging the Jesus Center, we’ve built a second shelter with even more beds.  And most recently we offered the roaming Ambassador program that we were assured would help a great deal.   In this program trained volunteers walked the streets requesting the homeless to be good citizens.  For example, use restrooms, don’t litter, don’t camp in public, don’t bath in the public fountains or sleep drunk on the sidewalk.

The homeless were given meal vouchers and  informed where they could seek assistance from a number of private and government agencies that provide free food, free meals, free healthcare including psychiatric care, free counseling, emergency money, free legal assistance, free shelter and other forms of free assistance, including work training.

The hope was this would greatly reduce thefts, vandalism and other criminal behaviors that overburden local law enforcement.  It didn’t, in fact it seems offering more assistance to the homeless only caused the problem to grow…one new bed equals 10 new homeless arrivals.

Of all the Chico merchants I spoke to, both along Mangrove and downtown, there seemed to be a general agreement that the only solution left is to get tough.  Most would like to see armed security guards around the stores, not to harm anyone, but to intimidate the criminals into avoiding their stores and make customers feel safe.

They would like the Chico police chief to do more too.  From local merchants to local ministers, they all seem to think the police are not really interested in dealing with this mess.   The officers I spoke to said they want to do more, but the chief has not been supportive of their initiative, so they’ve back off.

Nobody, not the City Council, the Police Chief or any of the homeless groups has a viable answer to this problem.  Given the current laws, the division between liberals and conservatives and the army of lawyers eager to sue the pants off cities and businesses for violating the rights of the criminals…well, it looks like we’re just screwed.

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26 Responses to The Early Signs of Decline

  1. Joe says:

    Of all the Chico merchants I spoke to, both along Mangrove and downtown, there seemed to be a general agreement that the only solution left is to get tough.

    Oh come on, Jack! I’m sure there’s no need to get tough.

    The wise, kind, big hearted, saintly liberals like Libby, Dewey, Chris and the tens of thousands of liberals in this county will step up. I’m sure they will be willing to share their spare bedrooms for the homeless until these homeless can get back on their feet.

    Heck, Ann Schwab owns a mansion up in the hills. I’m sure she has several spare bedrooms she would be willing to share!

  2. Tina says:

    Jack if we peel the onion back far enough we find basic shifts that make it impossible to deal with this problem. Is it not incredible that we have gone from being a society with high expectations for/of our citizens to one of low expectations plus reward for bad behavior?

    We can all agree that serious circumstances have led to these high numbers in many cases but we cannot take the things we’ve done as a society that make matters worse out of the equation: destruction of the family unit; devaluing males; lowered education standards in general; poorly educating the male population; rock bottom morality, including the glorification of drug and alcohol use and sex; denigration of religion; placing “rights” above civic responsibilities.

    We do people no favors when we refuse to hold them to high standards and fail to hold them accountable for the decisions they make.

    The Veterans Department has utterly failed returning vets. But the problems above come into play here also. They’re returning to a sick, dysfunctional society.

    We’ve raised too many lost souls, too many that are adrift in a rudderless boat, too many who’ve been coddled to the point of being severely crippled, too many who believe and put their faith in fantasy, too many that will not acknowledge evil, too many that shrink in the face of hard decisions, too many that run around their brains in circles thinking that means they’re smart.

    I guess what you’re ultimately asking is, “How do we unwind this mess?”

    A lot of hard work and commitment…it could take decades if it’s even possible.

  3. Sandra L says:

    On a trip to the market I’ve seen a least one or two bums running out of the store with his back pack STUFFED full of steaks and beer. A store clerk would be chasing after them as they hopped on their bike or ran off on foot.

    Now the bums are getting bold. They just walk out the store with as much booze as they can carry. The store workers cant do anything about it.

    Just a few days ago I was walking into safeway as this “lady”bum walked casually out of the store with several bottles of wine. Two clerks were standing outside on the phone with the police describing this bum, as she took her time placing the bottles in her bike trailer, which was crammed full of camping gear, junk and recycling.

    She was in no hurry to run or hide because the bums know very well the store cant do a thing about it. Given time they will be loading up a shopping cart bi-passing the check out stand holding up a big middle finger.

    Years ago, I saw a little teenage girl taken off in hand cuffs as her and few other friends ate ice cream in front of Swensons. They were out after a 10pm curfew on a Saturday evening. The police enforced a strict city regulation that the local teens would be arrested for violating curfew.

    Times sure have changed, and not for the better.

    • Tina says:

      They sure have Sandra. The young people that are doing okay will have a lot of heavy lifting ahead of them unless we find a way to bring the numbers down. Fortunately, a lot of young people seem to be adopting the values of the wWII generation. I hope that’s a good sign.

  4. Joe says:

    Jack, the liberals in this county could solve the homeless problem overnight if they wanted and you know that.

    If just a fraction of the liberals in this county would share one of their spare bedrooms with the homeless until these people can get back on their feet, there would be no homeless.

    Anne, open your mansion!

  5. J. Soden says:

    Chico didn’t listen and had to learn the hard way what Phoenix, San Diego, Vista and other cities found out: the more homeless “services” and lax enforcement there are, the more homeless will be found. It’s sorta like “If you build it, they will come”

    If city officials had to feed and house the “homeless” in their own homes, you can bet their open-arms attitude would change.

    Getting tough is the only logical answer. Along with a good prosecutor!

    • RHT447 says:

      One of my favorite quotes—

      “We are ever confronted with two kinds of pain: the pain of discipline, and the pain of regret. You can avoid one, but never both.”

      • Joe says:

        Good saying.

        One of my favorite quotes—

        Can you share some of your others?

        • RHT447 says:

          Glad to.

          “Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” —George Bernard Shaw.

          “Individually, we do not bear arms because we are afraid. We bear arms as a declaration of capacity. An armed man can cope – either in the city or in the wilderness – and because he is armed, he is not afraid.

          The hoplophobe fears and, yes, hates us, because we are not afraid.

          We are overwhelmingly “other” than he, and in a way that emphasizes his afflictions.”—Jeff Cooper

          “War is hell, but actual combat is motherf#%#r.”—Col. David Hackworth.

          I have always admired Jeff Cooper and very much enjoyed his commentaries. For anyone interested, here is an archive link—

          http://myweb.cebridge.net/mkeithr/Jeff/

  6. Post Scripts says:

    People forget that we own this country. The liberals have the biggest mouths, but they are not the majority, not yet anyway.

    To solve this homeless problem there needs to be a voter consensus and then will to make it happen.

    There is an old saying that sums it up thus, “You teach people how to treat you by what you tolerate.” Think about that one for a minute. Many important problems could be solved if we viewed them as intolerable.

    As it stands right now, there’s no accountability and we’re acclimating to tolerating bad behaviors. The homeless and their liberals codependents are the problem. The liberals act as the enablers. They aid and abet in the bums bad behaviors, making it possible for them to continue. The bums are being taught nothing, they are not encouraged to change, so they are free to gravitate to the path of least resistance.

    First thing we do is overturn the court of fools that said police can’t arrest bums for loitering late at night around businesses. Vagrancy, failure to identify were valuable tools of the law that served us well. They should make a come back. We need to restore the chain gangs, they did a lot of good work in the community and served as an incentive for bums to respect the local laws.

    We need to restore the laws that said it’s illegal to pee and poop on the sidewalks, doorways, etc. We must restore the laws that said sleeping/camping on the sidewalks, park benches, city lawns, public parks is illegal.

    We ought to demand that before we hand out free stuff, that all new arrivals register for public assistance for a full 60 days before it can be offered or show proof of residency for 60 days.

    Welfare must be time limited, include work training and require drug testing. People asking for food stamp or AFDC must enroll in a back to work program, unless physically or mentally incapable. First change to welfare: Having additional children while on welfare does not allow one to collect additional money.

    There’s a start… your thoughts?

    • Tina says:

      I have to admit I have never heard the term Hoplophobia: a neologism, originally coined as a pejorative, to describe an “irrational aversion to weapons.” It is sometimes used more generally to describe the “fear of firearms” or colloquially as the “fear of armed citizens.”

  7. Harold says:

    If I recall correctly, there was one thing that worked to resolve a issue with homeless abuse of service.

    The restroom on the little island as you enter downtown from the north, because of the homeless disrespecting it and leaving a mess all the time, It was locked up and use was denied to anyone.

    It wasn’t until the homeless lost the benefit of that restroom and then the homeless organized amongst themselves to keep it clean that it was reopened for use.

    Maybe if we stop some of the benefits they have in Chico, the same consideration toward help might be the answer. But we can not just let them break rules that a responsible citizen would be charged with.

    The homeless need to understand and respect what a community that extends them a hand up is doing to help and in turn do something to prove their worthy of help, or they can move on to easier pickings.

    But it needs to start with strong leadership from our own city council and PD to effectively to eliminate the bums, and sort out and help those wanting to escape the lifestyle.

    A simple work program of cleanup made up of the homeless group that consisted of volunteers would help identify the ones worth helping.

    • Harold says:

      One more thing that could help solve some of the “transient homeless” that flock to easy targets like Chico.

      STOP handing them money,

      Chico has more than enough social services to provide them with the basics, all you do when handing out money to panhandlers is provide them with cash for booze in most cases.

      If you want to help them, stop facilitating them by providing them the means to become the inebriated problem Jack describes in his article.

  8. Peggy says:

    A conservative media group has had enough and is fighting back using the liberal’s own tactics.

    After a long list of conservative media host being targeted and taken off of the air the attacks on Hannity was the straw that broke the camels back. In turn the advertisers of Rachel Maddow is now receiving like treatment and have vowed to utilize their 6,000 volunteers to continue until the liberals stop. If they don’t stop then neither will this group.

    They are making it clear this is not a boycott, but it is the conservatives fighting back to protect the conservative media voice.

    The organizers are on the Hannity radio show and will probably be on his TV show tonight. Yes, he will be on tonight. They didn’t get rid of him.

    Learn more here.
    https://mediaequalizer.com/

    • Peggy says:

      More info. from the above link.

      #StopTheScalpings announces Operation Fight With Fire:

      “Working Together, Against the Suppression of the First Amendment by the Left

      NEW YORK, NY, May 30, 2017 – Today, conservatives stand together with #StoptheScalpings to push back against the attempt to silence those who dare to ask tough questions and pursue the truth. Sean Hannity, of Fox News, took it upon himself to delve deeper into a story, one that left many unanswered questions requiring further investigation.

      #StopTheScalpings is part of the Media Equality Project, a new organization launched by Brian Maloney and Melanie Morgan, two longtime talk show hosts, political and media analysts.

      The DNC, mainstream media, George Soros, and Media Matters for America, deemed Sean Hannity’s pursuit of the facts too close for comfort. In an effort to protect their ilk, and the secrets they keep, they have created a false narrative. They have defamed Hannity’s character, his work and political positions.

      Media Matters has now targeted Sean Hannity’s advertisers all in a back door effort to remove financial support for the show. They do this to silence his voice, because it does not speak in unison with their own.”

      continued…
      https://mediaequalizer.com/brian-maloney-and-melanie-morgan/2017/05/stopthescalpings-announces-operation-fight-with-fire

  9. Tina says:

    Peggy it’s working too:

    The USAA financial services firm will reinstate ads on conservative Fox News host Sean Hannity’s primetime show after receiving backlash from military members and veterans, the Associated Press reports.

  10. Jim says:

    The homeless issue is complex, and there is no simple solution. Part has to do with the failure of the middle class that has been occurring for the past 30 years. Once a person fails financially, it’s hard to get back on your feet. Good paying jobs are scarce in Chico.

    Another part has to do with the feeling of hopelessness that has effected many people recently. This leads to drug abuse. People are openly using and selling drugs in the City Plaza. Not much is done about this.

    Then there is the complexity of law enforcement. As I understand it, it’s a time consuming process to arrest and book someone. Since these people can’t be fined, and we can’t afford to incarcerate them, there isn’t a lot the police can do.

    The City seems more concerned about feel good type issues like bike trails, bag bans and traffic circles to do anything to improve the situation.

    I’ve asked a lot of people, and haven’t heard a real solution. I agree, I think we are screwed.

  11. Sandra L says:

    Misery is just as much part of life as happiness. We have all been there and had our own bad experience with some type of situation, like being fired from a job you worked for years. Or maybe someone betrayed you like a husband or wife. Divorce. Eviction or foreclosure. it happens and sometimes for reasons that were in our own control.

    Wallowing in this misery only makes you a worse victim. Most of us don’t have that luxury to wallow in our setbacks, so we have to drop this baggage, find another job or whatever and move on. We learn from our mistakes that got us in a jam. For example, you learn not to show up at work late every day after a night of too much boozing or maybe you better quit smoking and drinking and use that money towards the mortgage.

    At work the other day, I learned of a nurse who had her license suspended for two years because her scum boyfriend took her blank checks and started writing bad checks all over town. Now she can’t pay her rent, has no job and in trouble with the police. Did I mention her three kids? Oh ya, CPS is investigating and they may be put in foster care. Her side of the story is how unfair life is and how down on her luck she is now. She picked him.

    If we only knew half the truth how bums got to this point maybe we would be less surprised and more angry. Failure is a part of life, get over it.

  12. Pete says:

    Does anyone have thoughts on the proposed Downtown Chico Property-Based Business Improvement District? I live within this proposed area, so if PBID passes I will be forced to pay about $500/year in fees.

  13. Tina says:

    Progressive Urban Management Associates has a “fact sheet” on “Property-Based Business Improvement Districts” but I don’t know if it contains the specifics of Chico’s proposal. It might give you some idea of what your “fee” might buy.

    I hope the information helps.

    • Tina says:

      Happy to help, Pete. That’s a pretty big chunk of change. Will you move or remain?

      • Pete says:

        No way I’m moving over this. It’s not that much money. My only concern is that I don’t have any problems even though I live downtown. So my money will be spent elsewhere. I have very few transients, no graffiti, and no crime. (My car will probably get broken into tonight because I said that.) Honestly my neighborhood was awful 15 years ago. Now it’s great even though a few blocks away businesses are having real issues. Who knows, maybe this will help to create a more beautiful, vibrant, and family friendly downtown. I’d love to see that happen. It needs to happen.

  14. Tina says:

    Heaven help us there’s another sign of decline: lousy examples in schools:

    Kiddie choirs. Children’s piano recitals. And a full-on, erotic drag show complete with gyrations, tongue gymnastics and a flashed G-string.

    Families at a Manhattan public school talent show got an unexpected lesson in human sexuality when a grown man took the stage in a black, sequined dress and flaming red wig and performed a raunchy drag number where he grinded the stage and spread his legs.

    Warning: pictures at the link.

    The man was described as, “Public School 96 Parent Association President Frankie Quinones”…he also performs in drag at local night spots.

    Remember when adults protected young children from things considered too adult and to raunchy for young ears and eyes?

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